United (The United Trilogy Book 1) (6 page)

BOOK: United (The United Trilogy Book 1)
4.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Masters stops at the waterfall, not to enjoy the amazing sight before us, but because he is waiting for someone.  His eyes don't flick even once toward the magnificent sculpture.  No matter how long I work here I think it will always captivate me. 

All of a sudden I hear heels clicking on the marble floor.  An older woman around 60, with perfectly-styled gray hair and large brown eyes approaches us.  She is smiling, but it doesn't reach her eyes.  She looks tired, and something more...skeptical, I think.  She takes her time eying me, and then Wes.  You can tell her inspection is making Wes very uncomfortable, but, to my great relief, he keeps his comments to himself.  After several moments she extends her hand to me and then Wes. 

“Good morning. I’m glad to see that you both have arrived.  My name is Annabelle and I am the representative of the Foundation. It is a pleasure to meet you.”

My mouth goes dry.  The Foundation Council is made up of ten members and it is the Council that makes sure that the laws of the founders are being upheld, with no deviation.  It is also the Council’s responsibility to approve of and appoint the new President from the candidates presented to them by the Career Board.  I remind myself that she must be in my corner and push my nervousness aside.  “It’s very nice to meet you, Annabelle.”

“Just one moment and we will get started for the day.”  I notice that she is pressing buttons on her watch.  Within moments a beautiful girl comes walking towards us.  Her age could be anywhere from 18-25.  She has long red hair with blonde highlights running throughout, bright hazel eyes, and a very friendly smile that puts me instantly at ease. 

“Ah, Aspen, this is Rosaline and Wesley.  I’d like you to show Wesley around for a few hours while the Foundation meets with Rosaline, please.”  Turning to Wes, Annabelle adds “Aspen is my assistant and will take good care of you.”

Wes is clearly put off and uncomfortable with the idea of leaving me and having to go with a stranger.  He looks at me, pleading with his eyes not to make him go.

I turn to Aspen, “It’s very nice to meet you, Aspen.  Wes is very interested in the train and would love a tour if all possible.”  I am begging her with my eyes to please understand that this isn’t a request and if she doesn’t want him to flip out immediately she will catch on and say yes.  Please just say yes.

“Of course! That is a fabulous idea.  In fact, one of our scientists is making some adaptations to one of the trains at this very moment and I’m sure Miles would love to have your opinion.”  I could just kiss her.

Wes lights up brighter than I have ever seen him.  All fear and worry about leaving with a stranger instantly vanish with the promise of seeing the workings of a train and being able to harass one of the scientists. 

“That sounds wonderful, Aspen!” Wes turns and walks away with her without another thought of me.  As they are walking away I can hear him ask her “What kind of name is Aspen anyway?”

Oh good Lord, that poor girl is going to hate me by the end of the day!  Surprisingly, however, she just chuckles and says “What kind of question is that to ask a stranger?”

“I like her.”

“Yes, Aspen is the best!  I couldn’t get along without her.”  Annabelle is now openly studying me.  I stand there trying not to squirm.  “I was very impressed with you as well.  You handle Wesley perfectly.  I was worried for a minute there that we were going to have a meltdown on our hands.” I like her honesty and candidness very much. 

“Yes, well we might have.  Wes doesn’t like change, and not feeling like he is in control.  I learned at a young age that as long as you can redirect him to something he enjoys or distract him with something he finds fascinating, we can avoid meltdowns altogether.”  Suddenly I felt like we were talking behind his back and felt bad. She may be my boss more or less, but she needs to know to whom my loyalties belong.

“He may be quirky, but Wes is the most brilliant person I’ve ever known.  I get just as much out of our friendship as he does” I state fiercely.

She studies me again, for longer this time, and a huge smile breaks out on her face.  “Yes, I can see that.  I’m very happy to have you here Rosaline.  I think you are going to fit in wonderfully.  There is going to be a lot to get used to, but I have a feeling you can handle your own perfectly well. Now, let’s go meet with the rest of the Foundation.”  Just as she was making me feel as though I could actually do this she had to bring up the Council.  My stomach flips over and I pray they are all as accepting as Annabelle.  I have a feeling it isn’t going to be that easy.  If I am going to pick someone to represent a group, I would pick the one easiest to get along with as well.

I took another calming breath, something I find myself doing often lately, square my shoulders and look Annabelle in the eye “After you.” And off we go.


Chapter Seven

I followed her, hardly paying attention to where we were going.  My only concern at this moment was to make sure I kept breathing.  All too quickly we have arrived at a series of doors.  I’m pretty sure we took two of those cylinder type tubes to get here but I’m not really sure.  Annabelle scanned her hand on one of the doors panels, once her picture appeared on the screen I assumed we would be let in but then I was surprised to see her back up and a body scan came out of nowhere.  Once the body scan was finished she stepped aside and gestured for me to do the same.  I quickly went through the same ritual and soon the glass doors opened and shut behind us immediately.

Compared to most of the rooms I’ve been in, this one was rather sparse.  There was a large picture window overlooking the grounds.  A beautiful view, in fact, of the lines of trees and you could just make out the lake in the back ground.  Other than a large round glass table in the center, the room was completely void.  There were eleven glass seats at the table, which had no head and from what I could tell no leader.  “Please have a seat Rosaline.” I did as Annabelle asked and to my relief she took the chair next to me.

“Everyone, as you know, this is Rosaline Thatcher.  Please do your best not to scare her off on her first day.” There were a few chuckles around the room and it helped ease some of my fears.  Most everyone looked friendly, if anything maybe a little guarded and doubtful which I completely understood; I myself was both.

“Hello, it’s nice to meet you all.  I am in fact a bit terrified so I hope you go easy on me.”  There, that was polite but also the truth.  This earned me several very big smiles from around the table and a few hardy chuckles as well.  Annabelle smiled and patted the top of my hand.

“That’s alright dear, it will be painless I promise.  I would go around and introduce everyone to you, but I doubt you would remember all of their names so let’s do this the easy way.”  She again tapped a few buttons on her wrist watch and all of a sudden the plain glass table was transformed.  A blue- like light emerged and small holograms of everyone appeared before them along with their names.  “Now that that is done I’m going to turn things over to Seamus for a while so that he can catch you up on a little history.”

“Thank you Annabelle.  It is very nice to meet you Rosaline.  We know this can be rather overwhelming and a lot to take in, so we are going to take this slow, alright?” I nodded, feeling my nervousness start to abate.  Seamus was a sprite of a man.  Thin and wiry are the only ways I can think to describe him.  He had wire rimmed glasses and a very curly mop of graying red hair that was more gray than red now.

“We are aware that you know your history quite well,” he said with a smirk.  “So I will spare you going over the history in detail.  If you, at any point, have any questions at all, please stop me and I would be happy to explain in more detail.  Before I go into it further, however, we must have you sign a contract of confidentiality.  I’m sure you understand that most of what is said in this room is of strict confidence.  We pride ourselves as being a very honest country and open with the citizens; however, there are some things that in order for our structure to work and flow, need to stay confidential.  Do you understand?”  I shook my head yes.  I was very aware that this was going to be part of my job.  in fact I’m sure that was one of the reasons why they chose me for this position, once I was told something I was like a vault, as long as it didn’t go against moral code, bringing me to my question.

“Yes sir, I completely understand having to keep things confidential and I’m fine with doing so, however, as I’m sure everyone must know, I feel very strongly about moral code.  If I feel like at any time the Council or anyone else is breaking code, I’m afraid I will not be able to remain silent.”  That seemed to have stunned most I’ve them.  I’m not sure if it was what I said or the fact that I had the guts to come right out with it; that shocked me as well but I refuse to keep silent on matters I feel are wrong and its best if we are upfront about it now.

One woman chuckled a bit and I turned my gaze in her direction and noticed her name plate said Amira.  She is as beautiful and exotic looking as her name.  She has rich auburn hair that was long and flowing over the back of her chair.  She had a deep caramel colored skin and the brownest eyes I’ve ever seen.  Her lips are covered in bright red lipstick that did wonders for her beautiful face.  I’m guessing she was older than she looked to be, but she didn’t look a day over 40.  “Well done Rosaline.  Your morals and character is the reason you are sitting here today.  Many people have intelligence, class, leadership.  Those aren’t hard to find; but a deep moral foundation, one that doesn’t shift in time or circumstance; that on the other hand is very hard to find.”  She says this as though she is amused. 

Another man speaks up, his name plate says Simon.  “Yes, Amira is right.  However, Rosaline, this is not to be taken lightly.  Some of the things you will hear will be for your ears only.  If at any time something is said or done that you feel uncomfortable with we want you to come to us immediately.  Judging by this conversation I don’t think that will be a problem for you.” Several people laughed at this statement.  “After you come to us and we discuss things, if you still don’t agree or support whatever it is, you are welcome to step down as President.  This position isn’t like most careers.  You need to believe 100% in what you are doing, which in turn means you need to believe 100% in the ministry for this country to be successful.  If at any point you don’t feel comfortable with being President you are encouraged to step down.”  An eerie silence filled the room and I took in the looks on many people’s faces, this has happened in the past, I could feel it.  “However,” Simon continued, you will still be held to your confidentiality contract.  Do you understand what that means Rosaline?”

Yes, in fact I did know all too well.  That means once I sign, they could murder my parents in this very room and I was powerless to say anything about it.  I hardly doubt they would do such things, but still.  As if reading my very mind, Annabelle spoke up.  “I think it would be most helpful to Rosaline if we explain our list first.”

A very strong and powerful voice reprimanded her instantly.  “Annabelle!” I look to the man who has been silent until now.  He was a very stern looking older gentleman with dark hair and darker eyes which at the moment were scowling at Annabelle as if she was a misbehaving toddler.  His nameplate read Peter.

“I’m not suggesting we read her our list Peter, calm down.  I’m only saying that letting her know that we have standards and morals that we must abide by as a Council as well.”  This seemed to barely pacify Peter.  Annabelle seemingly not fazed by his outburst continued on.  “I must apologize Rosaline, it has been quite some time since we have had a new President and in all honesty the last one didn’t bring up any points at all besides nodding and following instructions.  Not to say you are doing anything wrong, I find you to be a breath of fresh air.  Let’s start over, shall we?”

“As you know,” Annabelle continued, “after we won the Rebellion all those years ago, our founders came up with their ideal America.  In order for this to continue and not revert to the mess it had become, they made very detailed laws and rules.  Not wanting the country to be under dictatorship they decided it would be best to have a Council.  But the founders still saw a need for leadership, which is why after much debate, they decided to keep the president position.  As seen in past history, that position of power can easily go to one's head and turn someone into something they aren’t, so the founders decided that they would come up with a list of qualities that they wanted this person to possess.  However, in their experience, someone can easily hide their true self.  In order to make sure this person was in fact the right one, they decided that a council was in order.  This board was to be the foundation of the country, thus our name, ‘The Foundation Council’.  It is up to this board to not only choose a president but do it correctly, which meant it had to be done from birth.  Children are our future; this was something all of the founders agreed on.  A child’s spirit can easily be destroyed or uplifted.  You can turn a child into a monster by treating them horribly, or you could turn them into a strong, compassionate person by doing the same.  In other words, we need to treat children how we want them to become.  This was the first rule.”

“Annabelle!” Peter warned again.

“I know Peter, but one of the reasons we chose her is because she always makes a calculated decision.  She only does something she knows is right.  We can’t expect her to sign anything until she understands why it’s so important, and she won’t understand until we explain everything to her.”  Wow, if I thought Blondie knew me well Annabelle, just blew her out of the water.  Everything she said was true.  I wasn’t going to sign anything until I understood why, but they seemed very happy to keep their secrets.

“I have an idea.” a very small, almost frail woman spoke up.  She had dirty blond hair cut short, she looked to be in her later 50’s or so and her name plate read Clarisse.  “What if we have two contracts for Rosaline instead of the usual one?  We can have one for her while she is training and then once she decides this is the right fit for her, she can sign the actual contract.  The contract she will sign now just states anything she is told in this room regarding history and rules she must keep to herself.  Once everything is open and on the table, she can then make the decision to begin working, and once she does, she can sign the original contract.”  If she wasn’t so tiny I would have squeezed her.  I thought her idea was brilliant.

I looked at her and smiled.  “Thank You Clarisse, I think that’s a fabulous idea.” She gave me a small smile.  Slowly one by one everyone nodded.

“Alright, give me one moment.”  A man named Lucas began to tap on the table frantically at the screen that appeared.  Within moments he was finished.  “There, it's done.  Alright Rosaline, when you are ready you can sign below stating anything we tell you will be kept to yourself.” I look down at the table and there is a screen that has appeared before me with the document.  I look up expecting a pen or something and a man whose nameplate said Samuel motioned with his finger as though he were writing, and then shot me a wink.  Ah, I get it.  So I signed my name on the contract and everyone seemed to let out a breath.

“Annabelle, you were doing a fantastic job before you were interrupted, why don’t you continue.” A woman whose name plate said Nadine stated with a smile.  This earned a dirty look from Peter but luckily that was all.

Annabelle started up again.  “Yes, where was I?  The founders, right.  So one of the founder’s goals was to find a president that was worthy, in order to do so they all agreed that the person picked must be watched as a child.  We must learn their deepest thoughts and desires to know the true nature of every child.  So they created the Career Board.  This was a perfect solution to not only finding a president, but also to encourage people to do what they love and are gifted in.  Before the Rebellion, very few people worked at the job they were made for.  Some chose to do what they were naturally talented in of course, but many others chose jobs based on money, power, or fame.  Also, people would choose jobs based on whatever they could find so that they could take care of their family.  None of this seemed to work, so the founders thought they could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.  This way they could watch for potential presidential candidates, and they could make sure that a person’s job was something they were good at.  Use their strengths to better the country, and not just themselves.  The only way to do this properly is to make sure that things like money, fame, and power were no longer a factor.  By everyone being provided for equally and all jobs being seen as part of the system this ensured that everyone would be doing what they were best at and appreciated for it.  So far, this has been a most brilliant discovery.”  I soaked up everything she said.  I knew most of this from my father, but I agreed with her, I think it was brilliant of the founders. 

“So once they had a way to find a president, and a job system set up, it pretty much went from there as you know.  I’ll spare you the setup of the zones and job markets; although I’m sure you will hear plenty on that later.  Not only did the founders know that they needed a council to find a president, they also knew that they had to somehow be able to keep the President accountable.  Even though the President may make the same amount of money so to speak as everyone else, they are honored and revered.  Most people find strength in that feeling and with that comes pride, and pride is usually a person’s downfall.” As she says this there is that hush around the room again.  Ten pairs of eyes all somehow lower and you can tell this has been more than an issue with some of the presidents. 

“So the best way to find someone is to take the person who will least likely want the job.” She says this with a smirk because she knows this is exactly how I feel.  “Pride is a huge downfall Roz.  It can take a great and honorable man and turn him into a power hungry monster.  Our greatest quest is to find someone who is the very opposite of prideful.  Our second greatest quest is to monitor them to make sure they don’t become that way.  Do you understand?”

I think about this for a moment then nod.  “I think so.  What you are saying is you find someone with the traits that you are looking for, and during their term as President they are being monitored and watched to make sure that they are in fact staying selfless, honorable and putting the people and country first.  Correct?”

She smiles and nods.  “That is very right Roz.”

BOOK: United (The United Trilogy Book 1)
4.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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